Ambulance hospital handover delays hit new high in England as one in six patients wait more than hour | UK News

One in six patients in England waited more than an hour to be sent to emergency departments last week as delays in ambulance handovers hit a new high.

A total of 25,182 handover delays of half an hour or more were recorded across all hospital trusts last week, according to NHS England.

This was 34% of all arrivals by ambulance, up from 31% the week before.

The figures are higher than at any time in recent winters with just over one in three waiting at least 30 minutes.

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In December 2021 in the corresponding week, the figure was 23% and 15% in December 2020.

About 12,534 patients, 17% of the total, had to wait more than an hour to be handed over.

This is up from 15% last week and compared to 13% at this time in 2021 and just 10% in 2020.

A delay in handover does not always mean that a patient has been waiting in the ambulance, as they may have been moved to an emergency department but staff were not available to complete the handover.

The increasing level of delays reflects the struggle hospitals face to find space for new arrivals.

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Ambulance personnel strike in December

More than 10,000 ambulance workers past nine NHS trusts in England and Wales are set to strike on December 21 and 28 in disputes over pay.

Ambulance workers from the GMB union, including paramedics, emergency room assistants, call handlers and other staff will strike, which troops are trained to drive ambulances.

It comes as tens of thousands of nurses have gone on strike for their first mass walkout in a century across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in disputes over pay.

111 calls reach near record levels

Calls to NHS 111 have also reached near-record levels, driven by concerns over Strep A infections.

A total of 706,129 calls were made to the NHS 111 helpline last week, a 60% increase on the previous week.

This is the highest number of 111 calls ever recorded, except for two weeks in March 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic.

Read more:
How NHS services will be affected by nurses’ strike
Concerns about care for cancer patients during nurses’ strike

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “This huge increase in calls to NHS 111 is understandable with concerns about winter viruses – including Strep A – a top priority for the public, but it is more important than ever that the public use 111 online where possible to obtain important information about non-emergency health conditions and to be signposted to the best possible care.”

He added that people must continue to call 999 in a life-threatening emergency during strikes, as well as attend pre-booked appointments as planned unless they have been rearranged.

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